Cholesterol is an important component of all biological membranes as well as drug delivery liposomes. We show here that increasing the level of cholesterol in a phospholipid membrane decreases surface charge in the physiological environment. Through molecular dynamics simulation we have shown that increasing the level of cholesterol decreases Na + ion binding. Complementary experimental ζ - potential measurements have shown a decreased ζ - potential with increasing cholesterol content, indicative of reduced surface charge. Both experiments and simulations have been carried out on both saturated 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC) and monounsaturated 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) membranes. This result is particularly important because membrane surface charge plays an important role in the interactions of biomembranes with peripheral membrane proteins and drug delivery liposomes with the immune system.